1. The Slurpee was invented by accident
A man named Omar Knedlik unintentionally created the Slurpee in 1959. He owned a Dairy Queen franchise in Kansas that did not have a soda fountain. He would place bottles of soda in the freezer to keep the drinks cool and serve these semi-frozen beverages to his customers, who loved the icy drinks. Knedlik began experimenting with an automobile air conditioner in an attempt to create the frozen soda treat more quickly. After five years of perfecting the process, Knedlik had created just what he imagined: a sophisticated machine that could make frozen, carbonated drinks quickly. This accidental drink eventually became known as the “ICEE,” and, then later, the “Slurpee” that we know and love.
2. It wasn’t always called a Slurpee
The ICEE Company, which first distributed Knedlik’s ICEE drink, allowed businesses to license a specified number of ICEE dispensing machines and have exclusive distribution rights in their territories. One of these businesses was 7-Eleven, who started using the “ICEE machines” in their store; the beverages were called ICEEs. But executives soon decided they would brand the drinks as a new product. In a May 1966 brainstorming session with 7-Eleven’s ad agency, director Bob Standford was drinking the product through a straw when he commented that it made a “slurp” sound as it was coming through the straw. The drink’s signature noise helped formulate its now-household name.
3. The most popular flavors are…
Coca-Cola and Wild Cherry! Not your favorite? There are 34 other flavors sold in America depending on the store location, including dragon fruit, watermelon, and sour green apple. Around the globe, flavors tend to get a bit more adventurous. In Canada, for example, you’ll find bubblegum and cappuccino; Australian options include ginger beer, honeydew melon, watermelon-lime, and fruit salad.
4. The Slurpee has its own album
In 1970, 7-Eleven released a vinyl record with two songs written just for the Slurpee. The first side featured a song titled “Dance the Slurp.” The other side had a short comedy act discussing how “strange things” happen to people who “slurp” at 7-Eleven. The record was given away with a purchase. Nearly 30 years later, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist sampled the song “Dance the Slurp” for their Brainfreeze mix album in 1999.The song includes the lyric: “slurp-slurrrppp” to imitate the signature sound.
5. And its own straw
7-Eleven invented a straw just for the Slurpee so customers could finish every last drop. One end looks like a regular straw used for sipping; the opposite has a funnel-like cone to scoop up icy remnants. This May, 7-Eleven introduced Animal Straws—limited edition versions that have the muzzles, snouts and beaks of four animals (an eagle, fox, wolf and cat). Feeling hipster-ish? Consider a Mustache Straw so you can rock a ‘stache while sippin’ on your Slurpee. (Both of these straws are available in limited qualities and only sold at participating stores)
6. Slurpees can do a number on your blood sugar
7-Eleven’s Slurpees range in size from a modest 8 ounces to a whopping 44 ounces (with 16-, 22-, and 32-ounce options in between). The larger drinks pack a ton of calories and sugar: The 44-ounce Sour Patch Watermelon Slurpee boasts about 500 calories and the same size Dr. Pepper Slurpee contains around 825 calories, most of which are from sugar.
7. We’ve Slurped Billions of These Frozen Beverages
Since 7-Eleven introduced the Slurpee in 1966, around 7.2 billion Slurpee drinks have been purchased—enough for everyone on earth. Today, 7-Eleven customers consume about 14 million Slurpees a month on average; 19 countries serve them.
Sources: Chelsea Melchor–Ketchum on Behalf of 7-Eleven, Convenience Store Decision’s Interview with the Slurpee by Bill Donahue, kshs.org, icee.com, corp.7-eleven.com, slurpee.ca, slurpee.com, Slate Magazine’s The Slurpee at 40 by David Amsden, americanhistory.si.edu, slurpee.com.au, youtube.com, abcnews.go.com, globalnews.ca, people.ucalgary.ca